A quiet, humble and modest Penang born Hakka who preferred to work in the background, Mr Hon Sui Sen was pivotal in the formulation and implementation of Singapore’s national economic development strategy. He was the first chairman of the Economic Development Board or EDB from 1961 to 1968, and then Chairman and President of the Development Bank of Singapore, now DBS, between 1968 and 1970, where he strongly supported the development of the Asian Dollar Market, and finally Singapore’s Minister for Finance from 1970 to 1983. As Minister for Finance, Mr Hon held the view that Temasek should develop the capability to also be an active investor of successful companies overseas. As EDB’s chairman, Mr Hon oversaw the transformation of the Jurong swamps into a thriving centrepiece of Singapore manufacturing for multinational and local companies. He also set up many other companies as part of the conversion and commercialisation of British military bases in the late 1960s. Several of these are now successful enterprises in the stable of Temasek-linked companies.
As Finance Minister, Mr Hon laid the foundation for Singapore’s tourism industry, including the transformation of a southern island into Sentosa Island, which today houses one of the two Integrated Resorts in Singapore. He was named the Economic Minister of the Year in 1982 by Euromoney magazine.